Once the No. 11 Penn State women’s lacrosse team took a second-half lead against No. 1 Maryland, Nittany Lions coach Missy Doherty wanted to make sure her team stayed calm.
She wanted her team to focus on doing the simple things well.
“I think sometimes when the game’s on the line, certainly against a really good team, the simple things start to fall out of place a little bit,” Doherty said.
I think sometimes when the game’s on the line, certainly against a really good team, the simple things start to fall out of place a little bit
Missy Doherty, Nittany Lions coach
So Doherty stressed continuing to work together on the offensive end to try add to its one-goal lead with more than 10 minutes to play. But the Nittany Lions couldn’t complete the upset, falling 10-9 to the unbeaten Terrapins on Thursday night.
The Nittany Lions (11-5, 3-2) were in position to hand Maryland (17-0, 5-0) its first loss of the season and earn a share of the Big Ten title in its regular season finale. They also had a chance to beat both the No. 1 team in the country and Maryland for the first time since March 2005.
The Terrapins have been dominant all season, coming into the game boasting the nation’s highest-scoring offense and outscoring opponents by an average of nine-plus goals per game.
Penn State stuck with Maryland from start to finish, limiting the Terrapins’ explosive offense.
“When you’re getting ready for Maryland, they have so many scoring threats so you have to make sure defensively, you’re really ready to mark each one,” Doherty said. “I think defensively, we had a lot of people that stepped up today and did a really great job.”
Mental mistakes derailed the upset bid.
After Madison Cyr found the back of the net to give the Nittany Lions an 8-7 lead with 10:27 left, Emi Smith made a save on a low shot by Maryland’s Taylor Cummings.
Penn State’s Katie O’Donnell fired a shot on the ensuing possession, but Maryland goalie Megan Taylor turned the shot away. Penn State’s Madison Carter pressured Taylor and hit her on the helmet to receive a yellow card.
The resulting two-minute penalty gave Maryland a man-up opportunity.
The Terrapins capitalized as Cummings found Taylor Hensh for a goal to tie the game with 6:45 left.
Penn State took possession on the next draw control, but Steph Lazo dropped a pass on the offensive end and Maryland’s Nadine Hadnagy scooped up the loose ball.
“Just a little mental mistake,” said Lazo, who finished with two goals and three assists. “Just let the pressure get to me a little bit.”
Maryland took advantage again.
Caroline Wannen scored to push the Terrapins ahead for good with more than four minutes to play.
Smith made 10 saves, including seven in the second half to keep the Nittany Lions in the game.
“I think my defense did an insane job today,” Smith said.
The Nittany Lions are hoping to play Maryland again.
The Big Ten tournament starts Thursday
“I mean losing isn’t the greatest feeling but to know that they are the No. 1 team in the nation, that we can hang with them, that is great for us,” Lazo said. “We’ll definitely see that team again and we’ll be ready for ’em.”